Creating An Irresistible Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

By Jeannie Kever

UH is partnering with a group of investors to commercialize technologies created by its faculty, advancing the UH Energy Research Park (ERP) as a focal point for entrepreneurial activity in the Houston region.

The deal will be worth as much as $25 million, including $15 million for a new building at the research park, which will house laboratories and startup businesses.

The agreement involves three entrepreneurs who came together to form the Texas Collegiate Regional Center (TCRC). It includes a venture capital fund that will attract funding in part from foreign investors through the EB-5 visa program.

Rathindra Bose, UH’s vice president for research, said the deal offers value for both the University and the city, as well as investors, because it will more firmly establish the ERP as a base for technology incubation.

“It’s not just the technologies, it’s the whole ecosystem,” Bose said. “The city will benefit because this is going to foster new technologies. Some of them are going to employ hundreds or thousands of people in the years to come.”

David Franklin, one of the TCRC principals and executive vice president at Consumer Media Network, said business people and inventors often speak different languages, making it a challenge to create a successful company.

“Bridging the language gap between business minds and academic minds is just the first challenge of many in commercializing technology,” he said. “By working through questions about license terms, funding, space, process and structure up front, we think this first-of-its-kind partnership between UH and TCRC will turbocharge our ability to bring great technologies to market.”

Franklin and the other principals in TCRC, Huan Le and James Tao, co-founded Houston Health Ventures, an angel investor group that helps finance early-stage health care–related technologies, but all three also have other business interests.

“This partnership between UH and TCRC is the culmination of our vision to create an irresistible ecosystem for the world’s best entrepreneurs, researchers, advisers and companies in Houston and at UH,” Tao said.

Jarvis V. Hollingsworth, immediate past chairman of the UH System Board of Regents, noted that UH was recently ranked No. 1 nationally in royalty revenue among public universities without a medical school. “This new partnership is another important step in our commitment to make sure the University’s considerable research resources are being used productively,” he said.

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